Backups and data archival are vital for all businesses but unfortunately, it can be all too easy to overlook this critical task—especially for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). SMBs often have few or even no dedicated IT staff and are often busy just trying to make things work. Backing up the critical business data sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. HP’s new RDX USB 3.0 is designed to provide fast and reliable backups for SMBs and remote offices where there might not be any technical IT resources. The unit is designed to be used in harsh environments, where you set it up once and then just let it run. The device takes care of the data protection automatically. The HP RDX is designed to be extremely durable as well as very easy to operate. In a briefing, an HP product manager mentioned that one of the device's tests was being drug behind a car and it was still able to function afterward. While I didn’t attempt that in my tests, the unit’s sturdy construction was evident in its metal housing and rubber coating, which would help it absorb impacts. You can see a picture of the HP RDX USB 3.0 Removable Disk Backup System in Figure 1.

Figure 1: HP RDX USB 3.0

Unlike a standard external hard disk, the HP RDX features a hard disk cartridge system that accepts a number of different disk cartridge sizes ranging from 320 MB all the way up to 2 TB. The cartridges themselves are approximately 3”x5” and they are about 1” deep. They are made out of durable plastic and metal. They contain a standard HDD and have a built-in SATA connection that enables them to snap into place in the RDX housing. You can see a picture of the 2 TB disk cartridge in Figure 2.

Figure 2: 2 TB Hard Disk size

The RDX can connect to your server using either USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connections; the connecting USB cable was included with the HP RDX packaging. When backing up with USB 3.0 connection, the HP RDX can transfer 360 GB per hour, while a USB 2.0 connection supports data rates of up to 108 GB per hour. The RDX supports both file deduplication and data encryption. While the HP RDX is primary oriented toward SMB servers, you can also use it to backup desktop systems as well. Notably, the HP RDX can perform full bare metal restores as well as restoration of selected data from the backup disk cartridges.

I found the unit to be quite easy to setup and use. Basically, I connected the unit to an open USB 3.0 port on one of my systems and installed the HP Utility Disk and then installed the Continuous Data Protection software. Both of those software installations were supplied on DVDs included in the package. You can also download the HP Continuous Data Protection software from the HP web site. Once installed, the Continuous Data Protection software runs automatically in the background. It backs up continually as changes are made to the system and intelligently performs backups in the background based on system activity. After installing the Continuous Data Protection software, the system prompted me to reboot. After the system restarted the backup began automatically. The initial backup took a few hours for a 1 TB system that was busily performing other tasks. An HP product rep mentioned to me that an upcoming version of the Continuous Data Protection software will also provide the ability to schedule specific backup times. The HP Continuous Data Protection software is integrated with Windows Explorer and you can freely perform simple with drag and drop file access just like any other HDD—even though the HP RDX is a removable drive. You can also use the HP RDX with Windows Server Backup, which is notable because Windows Server Backup is usually not able to use removable drives as a backup location. You can see the HP Continuous Data Protection software backing up and its integration with Windows Explorer in Figure 3.

 Figure 3: HP Continous Data Protection Software

You manage the HP RDX drive by right-clicking the HP RDX Protection icon under This Computer then selecting the Manage option. This displays the HP RDX Management Console, and the console has three tabs:

  • General - Displays the status and capacity of the currently loaded cartridge
  • System Recovery – Lists the available restore points
  • Cartridges - Lists all known RDX cartridges and their status. You can optionally archive cartridges which makes them read only or erase and recycle them.

To restore a file or a volume, you can right click on the HP RDX Protection icon under This Computer and then select Open. This will open a Windows Explorer window showing the drives that have been backed up. To recover the latest version of a file, simply drag it to the destination folder using Windows Explorer. To recover a previous version of the file, double-click in the file in the HP RDX Protection Explorer window to display a list a previously backed-up versions. You can then select the version of the file you want. If the file is not on the current cartridge, you’ll be prompted to insert the correct cartridge.

To perform a bare metal recovery, you first connect the HP RDX to the system with the cartridge you wish to restore, then boot the system from the HP RDX Continuous Data Protection CD. A wizard will guide you the process of selecting the cartridge, system, volume, recovery point, and target destination that you want to restore.

Summary

The HP RDX is a great backup and archival solution for SMBs. It’s simple, rugged, and reliable; you can plug it in, install the software, and forget about it. All of your server’s data will be automatically protected, and you don’t need any IT expertise. For off-site archival you can simply swap out the removable disk cartridge. It’s great replacement for older, slower DAT drives. HP’s RDX USB 3.0 Removable Disk Backup System retails for $739.00. The prices of hard disk cartridges vary depending on the size of the disk in the cartridge. A 320 GB hard disk cartridge retails for $110.37, and a 1 TB disk cartridge costs $200.78, while the largest 2 TB hard disk cartridge sells for $480.00. You can find out more about the HP RDX USB 3.0 Removable Disk Backup System at HP RDX 2TB USB3.0 External Disk Backup System